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The Apple iPad was finally delivered or sold to 300,000 people this weekend. Hardly any of us had even touched it before. After a couple of days playing with my new 32 GB, Wi-Fi only model — about $700 with tax and a basic dock — here are some topline observations:

  • It is elegant with wonderful screen resolution (but requires lots of wiping off fingerprints).
  • The Internet processing is really fast.
  • It turns on immediately. There is no delay.
  • It is kind of heavy (1 ½ lb.) and not easy to hold. The Kindle is much easier to hang on to. Maybe the $39 bendable cover will be a fix. In the meantime, I can’t do much of this in bed.
  • The virtual keyboard is quite doable in the larger size. My big hands generally have trouble with iPhone/iPod touch keyboards.
  • IPhone Apps can be made 2X in size, but they aren’t very clear and they use the smaller iPhone virtual keyboard. Apps should be made specifically for iPads.
  • The touch screen enlargement of pictures and text is fantastic on a large screen.
  • The absence of Flash is a pretty big deal, no matter what Mr. Jobs says. Whole sections of The New York Times Web version are blank spots.

All in all, it really doesn’t seem like such a big deal when you get it. It just goes to work and is Apple-intuitive. Naturally, I downloaded a bunch of apps that were local and/or news centric (Yellowbook,, YPMobile, SuperPages, DexOne Mobile, Zillow, Trulia,, eBay, Fwix, WeatherBug, Yelp, Citysearch, New York Times Editor, Wall Street Journal).

The Zillow app is an outstanding prototype for what this thing can be. It allows full blowups of residences, and takes excellent advantage of the GPS mapping. It is a major improvement over the regular version.

You need to be careful downloading apps now that there are so many paid ones. Many are basically impersonations of what most people are looking for. Looking up “Yellow Pages.” for instance, there are several that aren’t the bonafides (and sometimes the bad reviews are the only clues). And what might have made sense for differentiation on the iPhone (“YPMobile”) makes little sense on the iPad. Careful with the branding …

Ultimately, as our new “kitchen PC,” I already know thisis my family’s new Yellow Pages. The branding and marketing here is going to be vital. And time is of essence.

But is it going to take the place of our print newspapers at last? The New York Times “best of” selection is beautifully organized and so clear to read — a clear demonstration of superiority over the Web-based version (which can always be accessed). It may really be “better.”

I think it will win out in the end. But there are compromises. My wife and I can’t trade sections over the kitchen table, and I don’t want to get milk on this thing either. The LA Times, our semi-local paper, will still get soaked with milk.

At 3:40 yesterday, the iPad got a very immediate trial by fire as a news machine when the earthquake struck.

There were all the instant comments on Facebook (yes, earthquake in LA in Orange County, no earthquake in Temecula). Within an hour, the seismic charts showing the earthquake in Mexicali made it on to the Web — my tech-phobic mother-in-law quickly grasped the touch screen, spreading her fingers and widened the picture, showing that Mexicali is about 108 miles south of the border. Not bad!


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